Another major revelation in Blackwater case – might it secure Slatten's release?

Thursday, June 21, 2018
J.M. Phelps - Guest Columnist

J.M. Phelps ( Iraqi father refuses to participate in the government's "play" to wrongly convict an innocent man for the death of his son.

On September 16, 2007, two people in a white Kia were killed by members of a tactical support team (TST) that was hired by the U.S. State Department to protect a diplomatic security team in Baghdad. All along, the government has relentlessly pursued Raven 23 team member Nicholas Slatten, claiming he was responsible for killing the driver of the vehicle, which was a perceived vehicle-borne IED threat in Nisour Square.

In a shocking turn of events, when Slatten's attorneys filed their motion on June 20, it was revealed that Dr. Haithem Ahmed Al-Rubaie – whose wife and son were the two people killed in the vehicle – stated in an email to the FBI that he has been told, since day one, that Paul Slough and Jeremy Ridgeway were responsible for the tragic loss of his family.

The FBI's legal attaché and the assistant legal attaché visited with Al-Rubaie in Baghdad on June 3, in an attempt to secure his testimony. A representative from the Iraqi Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency (FIIA) was also present. After three hours of being interviewed, the witness "expressed a great deal of skepticism about the U.S. government's need for him to provide testimony in the upcoming retrial" of Slatten, which is scheduled to begin on June 25.

Al-Rubaie’s hesitancy prompted the FBI attachés to escort him to a meeting with the FIAA director, who "urged [him] to cooperate with the FBI in providing testimony." The witness concluded the meeting by stating he would advise those present of his decision at a later date.

The very next day, on June 4, Al-Rubaie emailed the FBI's legal attaché. He revealed:

"[I] had been told and talked more than once to US teams, I met in the green zone in Baghdad, that Paul Slough had killed my son and Jeremy Ridgeway had killed my wife."

This revelation shows that the United States government has, for over a decade, known that Slough and Ridgeway were responsible for the deaths of Al-Rubaie's family members - not Slatten. The DOJ trial team who is currently prosecuting Slatten received the witness's email on June 5.

Not until two weeks later, on June 19, did the defense receive the "production" which was dated June 18 from the DOJ! Coincidentally or conveniently, Slatten's trial was supposed to begin on June 18. Prior to this turn of events, Slatten's trial had already been rescheduled to begin on June 25. Surely, the government did not want to give the defense an opportunity to review the evidence.

Oddly enough, the FBI didn't prepare its official documentation of the meeting (routinely referred to as a “302”) until nine days after the witness's two interviews. Prior to this, there were no supporting notes to the meetings. The suspended effort to log a three-plus-hour meeting on a mere two-page document may suggest the FBI was purposefully delaying, hoping Al-Rubaie would actually testify.

If Al-Rubaie had never spoken up, the defense would likely have never known about any of this. His testimony would have been buried like the AK-47 shell photos were for so long. There has been a continuous revelation of errors and mistakes associated with this trial, including multiple Brady violations – and now more importantly, prosecutors have been shown to have been pursuing an innocent man.

Slatten should be freed immediately. With the recent revelation that the Iraqi colonel in charge of the entire investigation has been known to have ties to Iranian-backed militias since 2004, it is likely new trials are on the horizon for the other wrongfully-convicted members of Raven 23.

J.M. Phelps is a Christian activist and journalist based in the Southeastern U.S. He is also editor and publisher of the website Lantern of Liberty.

6/22/2018 - Para. 5 revised to include direct quotes from Al-Rubaie's email.

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